National Reconciliation Week is a time for Australia to reflect on its history, the rich cultures that create it, and how individuals can work together to achieve a better future for the country.
Aboriginal Health Coordinator Nathan Daly has a heart dedicated to helping people. He is Torres Strait Islander and Polynesian, and being of assistance to Indigenous people is what’s important to him.
“When I retired from rugby due to injuries, I pursued a job with a bank but soon realised the industry wasn’t for me. Afterwards, I worked with a foster care agency for Indigenous children, which ended up being quite heavy to handle. There was only so much of that role I could do before it started wearing me down,” he explains.
“I struggled with separating the personal and work sides of the job from one another. I just wanted to look after all of them.”
Growing up, Nathan heard stories about his mother, which highlighted the discrimination and lack of privilege her generation lived with.
“I heard stories of how she wasn’t allowed in cinemas when she was younger and wasn’t allowed to catch the bus. There was also a story about my grandfather having to walk all the way from Brisbane up to Cairns just to find work,” says Nathan.
“Hearing those stories made me really angry at the time but I’ve realised that anger doesn’t ever get us anywhere. For me, the important thing is that we work together.”
The focus of National Reconciliation Week, for Nathan, goes beyond Indigenous people.
“I look at it as Australia coming together no matter what your background is. Obviously, it’s very much based around the Indigenous community because not so long ago, we were recognised as ‘flora & fauna’, which was and is very sad,” he explains.
“It’s about all of us working together and being progressive, thinking ahead for our nation instead of dwelling on the unfortunate past. We have to stick together, working towards the same goals and not be resistant to each other.”
National Reconciliation Week encourages people to learn and reflect upon the history that Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians share. Nathan says the essence of reconciliation is something people can incorporate in everyday life.
“Help out by volunteering. Buy artwork by Indigenous people. Reconciliation doesn’t need to be a huge event nor does it necessarily have to only take place during a certain time of year. Small actions count, we need to take the opportunity to reconcile every second we get. That’s how we’ll continue to move forward. I’m very lucky to be a part of Medibank where the passion to continue to progress is strong.”